You always hear that life is short and that saying keeps coming up lately. It hits home for my current situation but only in the way that it’s forcing me to do that breathing thing I’ve been talking and learning about lately.
On my dragon slaying day, Monday, I mentioned to you all that I had stopped on my way to see my family. My aunt and her daughter had stopped by as well. My mom had pulled out a very old photo album. My great Aunt Rose kept it full of things from my mom’s twin sister, Janice. In it were pictures and a lot of letters from her during the time she was battling cancer.
Sadly, she did not win the fight and was taken much too soon at the age of 21. I had never seen this album, nor do I recall ever reading anything from her, or even seeing her hand writing. She was everything to my mom, and from what I read of her letters she was an incredible and special person who had so much love in her heart for just about everyone.
I was completely taken aback and saddened by reading her words. I was saddened because she had so much life. I was also uplifted because she had so much life. It was incredible.
She talked to Aunt Rose about everything going on in her life but made little mention of how she was feeling. She focused on her family, her sisters, her parents. Where she was living or moving to. Their family trips to Seattle, for treatments, and how much fun they had pretending to be just another group of tourists.
When she did mention how she was feeling, it was about how much better, how good she was feeling. Or if it was bad, it was something like a tooth ache that got infected and caused fever and an upset stomach. She never once broke optimism. Never once broke her positive stride. She talked about my Aunt Rene and her husband expecting their first child and how happy she was. She talked about my mom, being with my dad and how wonderfully in love they were. I know I’ve mentioned the word incredible already but there truly is no other word for it.
In the pictures of her, she was always smiling. There isn’t a single picture where she isn’t. I didn’t know whether to smile with her, or cry because that smile was cut so short. The thing is though, she lived. She lived and brought life and joy to everyone who knew her. She was honest. She didn’t hold back her happiness. From her letters it would seem she wanted nothing more then to be close to people. And so many of us that have so much more time, spend it running. We spend it too scared to tell people how we really feel.
It shouldn’t come down to loss and fear to make us say the things we need and want to say. It shouldn’t come down to these things to bring out emotion. For her, she was so young, and enduring so much, and yet she knew the important things. The important people.
Time is so fleeting. She went into remission when they didn’t think she would. Her battle was looking up. She was feeling fine. She even said in a letter, “This is the best I’ve ever felt,” and just a couple of short months later she was gone.
We don’t have time to keep things to ourselves. We don’t have time to be proud or to be scared. If you love somebody tell them. If you miss somebody tell them. If you feel weak around somebody then show them every weakness you have and ask them to love you for it. Because the person you’re showing probably has a lot of weaknesses too. And you grow by sharing. You grow by being emotional and honest about it together. You need those moments with people. It’s ok to not be strong all the time. Even if you get hurt, you at least tried. And if you don’t show it, then you will probably still get hurt because you will hurt yourself instead.
I found out today that a friend of mine who has been having some medical issues is in worse shape then anyone knew. And he’s young. He’s 35. He is in the midst of getting his life together, making better decisions, actually living his life. It took him too long to get to that point. It took him being scared to turn things around. And I want to see him live and grow.
And I want to do the same. I don’t want to wait for any more bad to happen to understand what’s important, and what it means to live. I want to love openly and honestly with somebody that will do the same, even if it’s scary. I want to be me every single day and not hold back. I want to keep learning and I want to write about it. I want to find the good in every situation, or at least the lesson.
I wish I could write my aunt Janice a letter, and I might still, and thank her for what she showed me Monday. And thank her for her smile. And I hope that writing this will help her lesson spread even further.
Initially I thought that there were so many more questions I wanted to ask about her. But then I realized that I have a lot more questions to ask about the people around me. And now I’ll answer some of the questions they have for me too. And maybe I’ll start writing some unexpected letters of my own.